“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.” – Pearl S. Buck
I’m a loner. I said LONER, not loser! Actually, allow me to correct myself – I WAS a loner.
Despite being a loner, recently I have allowed myself to be surrounded by people who care about me, who are able to provide me with support. This is huge, a really big deal for me, as I h a v e i n t i m a c y i s s u e s. Yes, I admit it, I do, and I’m working on them. And no, your eyes aren’t screwy and I didn’t make a mistake – I purposely spaced the words like that. I think it looks cool.
So back to what I was saying about my i n t i m a c y i s s u e s. Until recently, probably until around the time my daughter was born, I have not been able to successfully create a close bond with people, really connect with them. I think there is a direct relation between my i n t i m a c y i s s u e s and certain events which took place in the past. Since I was a little girl, I learned that people will do the following things: either hurt you, leave you or try to control you. So to protect myself, I would put up an invisible wall which prevented people from getting really close to me.
Life until now has been lonely. I mean really lonely. I could be sitting in a room filled with people I know, even all my life, and I would feel exceptionally alone. I might as well have been the only person in the room. Actually, I probably would have preferred that, as I would have felt much more comfortable. At least I wouldn’t have to pretend to not feel uncomfortable. I have no issues with being alone. I cherish my alone time. It’s the time I get to think, decompress and be in the moment with myself. And I had a lot of time to get to used to being alone. But there is a difference between being alone, and being lonely. Feeling lonely is H O R R I B L E (hahaha, I like doing that).
Dictionary.com defines each as follows: Lonely: unhappy as a result of being without the companionship of others eg. a lonely man. Alone: separate, apart, or isolated from others eg. I want to be alone.
I didn’t realize that I was actually making myself lonely. How weird is that? The very thing that I hate, I was purposely doing to myself. Let me give you an example. I assumed that when you were in a relationship with another person – whether it be a friend, lover, relative etc, you had to be everything to that person. I have found that eventually, the other person would feel smothered, and I would try harder until I reached the point where I would feel rejected. I would become resentful of the person because they weren’t grateful for what I was doing for them, and eventually they would become angry at me because I wouldn’t hear what they were trying to convey. In the end, it wasn’t a satisfying relationship for either of us. My expectations were too high, I demanded too much from the person and the relationship and sometimes, so did the other person. I wanted to be their best friend, their banker, their go-to person, their assistant, their maid etc. This isn’t right. This is downright ludicrous! This is what probably contributed to the breakdown of my marriage.
We must not be everything to someone. Let me put it this way: at work, we aren’t expected to be the CEO, the accountant, the sales person, the customer service representative and the marketer all at the same time or maybe ever. So why do we have such expectations in a relationship? We have our strengths and weaknesses, plain and simple, and our relationships should be based on them. So I have come to accept that I won’t always be everything to someone. I actually demand that I am not. I won’t always be the person that someone confides in. I may not be the one to gets called on to run an errand, or go out drinking, or just to hang out. And I’m OK with this, because quite frankly, it would be too stressful if I was. And really, how could I possibly support someone the way I’d like to? When someone finds that they need me, I know that it’s because I am able to give that certain something they are looking for in that moment. So now I have different people I go to for different things. I go to one for emotional support, another for a kick in the butt and another for help with strategic thinking. And I’m probably those same things for different people as well.
I also accept that it’s not possible to force a relationship to be something that it is not, without change taking place with both parties. It’s not good enough to just want it to be a certain way. Part of the change process is to let go of the past, and to leave it there. It’s impossible to move forward with life while dragging the past along with you.
Sure, memories will always be there, good and bad, but carrying around the burden of anger and guilt when you are truly trying to move forward, won’t do any good. It is what prevents you from moving on, hinders the relationship from growing. You might as well give up on your intentions to move forward if you’re going to carry this luggage around. It won’t get you anywhere. And this is what contributes to a life of loneliness, to being a loner. How can people enjoy being with you when they are being constantly reminded of what happened in the past? Why would anyone want to be in that situation? What joy is there in this type of relationship? And so the loneliness continues.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It took a while for me to understand this, to come to this conclusion. But now that I have, it has alleviated a lot of the depression and let down that I have been carrying around with me. I feel lighter. Because I struggled so much with relationships and intimacy, this was a breath of fresh air, it brought hope. This has been a big learning process for me and I’m still learning. I have experienced support and love where I least expected, resistance to the changes I’m making, strength when I thought I would break and comedy in times of despair. And I’m looking forward to discovering more.